Frequency vs. Recency

Jan 8, 2014


While at a recent business convention in St. Louis there was some discussion around the term “Recency Theory” in advertising. I decided to do a bit of research to better understand this theory, as more and more media planners around the country are considering it in their marketing plans.

For years the concept of effective frequency has been the primary consideration of advertisers. This concept revolves primarily around being in front of the right people over and over and over again, and as a result creating ad memory in those consumers. This belief is still alive and well in the advertising world – i.e. hear something 3 times and you will likely remember it.

The term recency is used by psychologists to describe memory recall of the most recent information presented. This theory suggests that advertising memory must include two factors –recency and relevance.

The importance of relevance is that advertising will have a far greater impact on consumers who have a need or desire for a product or service at the time they see the ad. As an example, a vegetarian is not going to see relevance in the new bacon burger advertisement, but someone who owns a car certainly will see oil change shops as relevant.

The belief with recency theory is that if an ad is relevant to a consumer, and the consumer is ready to make a purchase, the most recent advertisement seen will be the most impactful upon that consumer’s memory. The ideal time to target a driver in need of an oil change is while she’s driving in her car and she looks up at the oil sticker reminder.

Whatever your beliefs are in marketing, frequency or recency, I think the safest bet is to achieve BOTH, and outdoor advertising is often a very effective way to achieve both at a very reasonable investment level.

– Corey Shumway (General Sales Manager)

Share This